Economic Botany

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 381–393 | Cite as

Uses of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens, Arecaceae) in Florida

  • Bradley C. Bennett
  • Judith R. Hicklin


Saw palmetto [Serenoa repens (Bartr.) Small] is the most common native palm in the U.S. and, possibly, the most useful. Cattle and wildlife, especially black bears and white-tailed deer, consume the fruits. The flowers are a favorite nectar source for honey bees, and the sprawling, shrubby palm provides excellent cover for birds, reptiles, and small animals. Saw palmetto's edible fruits were a staple in the diet of Florida's pre-contact inhabitants. Vegetative parts of the plant supply fiber, wax, and roof thatch. Current interest in saw palmetto stems from its use in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. An estimated 6 800 000 kg of the fruit are shipped to Europe each year. Preliminary data suggest that the economic value of saw palmetto harvesting may exceed that of cattle grazing, the common use of much saw palmetto habitat.

Key Words

saw palmetto Serenoa repens benign prostatic hyperplasia prostate Seminole Miccosukee Florida plant medicines plant fibers Arecaceae non-timber forest products 

La utilización de Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens, Arecaceae) en el Estado de Florida USA


Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) es la palma mas común en los Estados Unidos y, quizás se puede decir, es la mas utíl. El ganado y los animates silvestres, particularmente los osos negros y los venados cola-blanca, comen las frutas. Las flores del saw palmetto son una fuente favorita de nectar para las abejas de miel, y la palma extendido y fruticoso ofrece una cubierta excelente para los reptiles, aves, y animates pequenos. Las frutas comestibles del saw palmetto fueron un alimento principal en la dieta de la gente indígena de la Florida. Las panes vegetativas producen fibra, cera, y hojas para hacer techos. Hoy en día, el interés en saw palmetto resulta del su uso para tratar la inflamacion benigna de la glándula próstata. Se estima que una cantidad de 6 800 000 kg de las frutas es exportada a Europa cada año. Estudios preliminares sugieren que el valor económico de la cosecha de saw palmetto excede el valor de ganadería, cual es el uso mas común de la tierra donde crece saw plametto.


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bradley C. Bennett
    • 1
  • Judith R. Hicklin
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Biological Sciences & Environmental StudiesFlorida International University and Fairchild Tropical GardensMiami
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida Intentional UniversityMiami

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